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Olaf Johnson RSS Feed (Anchorage, AK 99505)
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Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 (32GB, Black)
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 (32GB, Black)
Price: Click here to see our price
30 used & new from $607.65

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Tablet! Well worth the price! w/ Bonus Zagg keyboard review!, March 8, 2014
April 2014 Update:

It has been over a month of usage with the 12.2 and I have to admit my
experience has become more and more positive.

Things I am liking is the the stellar battery life, the way apps
update to work better with 4.4os, the physical durability, the screen
sharpness/brightness, and the internet browsing experience.

I love the multi-day battery power you get. I realize even with the
screen up at 80% brightness watching Netflix all day the battery still
takes forever to drain. The only App that seemed to cause Battery
drain and slow recharging issue was Word-With-Friends, Blurb Checkout
and HP Printer Services. Once you delete those and make use of Task
Manager to curb background activity everything improves. Also keeping
GPS Antenna off helps.

Apps seem to be updating regularly to work smoother on 4.4os and to
also support the multi window display. So now more apps can be swiped
into new windows when in multi window mode. By contrast I have some
popular apps on my iPhone that are only now updating to work better
with last year's iOS 7.

I'm finding the feel of the tablet is great for daily use. I love the
faux leather back and aluminum trim. You don't necessarily need a case
like you would on a scratch prone-metallic iPad. The faux leather is
soft to the touch and easy to grip, yet handles daily
commuting bangs and scrapes well without any signs of wear and tear.
One thing I didn't expect though is the faux leather to be a bit of a
fingerprint magnet.

I tried using other tablets since and I now realize how great the
screen is. Apart from the slight fuzziness you get when importing low
res pics (or browsing the Facebook/eBay app) hi res images, websites,
eBook/Adobe Reader text and colors always look sharp and bright. I
even take back what I said about the 10.1 Note Pro's screen being
possibly better. The 12.2 has a greater overall screen. As long as you
stay away from your Grandma's 1 MP pictures and don't expect extra
sharp images on the Facebook and eBay app then this tablet will make
you happy. Actually if you use Chrome or Internet to browse Facebook
and eBay then the images will look sharper and will scaled up
properly.

This brings me to my final impressions for the 12.2: the web browsing
experience is second to none! I'm very impressed with the consistent
speed and page layout of the Chrome and Google web apps. This is the
first tablet where I can say anyone's dependence on a full desktop PC
or laptop PC for internet service will be greatly diminished. The only
thorn in this positive is that Adobe Flash material may or may not
load on certain websites but there is an Android Flash Player Patch
(not found in the Play Store/Samsung Apps) that you can install thru
your web browser to work around this.

Positives aside there have been some hiccups with the 12.2. There is a
slight interface delay when using the S pen on certain Apps. It works
perfectly in S pen native apps. I don't find myself using S pen for
what I normally do on my 12.2 so it is no bother to me but still worth
mentioning.

Also the Android/Samsung Gallery and File Management system can get
cluttered if you tend to store a lot of documents and media. Add in
the automatic Facebook/Dropbox media file import and you may find
yourself lost in a sea of tricky to remove pictures that you never put
on the tablet. However, coming from an iOs iPhone background where
Apple manipulates your media and files for you I am actually enjoying
the freedom of organizing my images and files the way I want.

I don't really use the Magazine but, unlike widgets, the Magazine
tiles do not auto update. [Yeah I checked with Samsung and] there is
'currently' no method for selecting them to automatically refresh with
new stories and content. It has to be manually done for each tile
every time you open Magazine. This actually defeats the purpose of what
the feature is about-quickly exposing users to new and newsworthy
information. On the flip side I'm curious how battery life will fare
once Samsung allows background auto update of all those tiles.

Over all I think anyone who chose this tablet will be happy. I still
don't know why haters still rate the 12.2 low because Samsung wants
$750 for a 12.2 tablet when in the same stores Samsung smart phones, iPads and iPhones
sell for $799+.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

I originally wanted the Note 2014 10.1 for the holidays but decided to wait when the 12.2 appeared at CES. After seeing a some early online gadget reviews and videos I went into Best Buy held both the 10.1 and 12.2 and in under 3 minutes I was sold on the Pro 12.2.

What I realized after looking at the 32GB 10.1 at $549 versus the 32GB 12.2 at $749 that for $200 more you get a lot more than just a bigger screen.

After a month of daily use with my 12.2 did I make a good choice? Let's find out.

PROS:

The battery life is very good. I usually go all day with usage (bluetooth, wifi, apps running, screen brightness at 60%-auto brightness set to OFF) and never go below 70%. Some applications (words with friends) and widgets will drain battery quicker even if you are not directly using them so it is best to use the task and application manager in settings to see what is using your battery the most. Also GPS antenna being on all the time will kill the battery life.

The first thing you will notice is that the 12.2 handles multiple tasks VERY quickly. It is not as quick as my iPhone 5S when opening heavy apps quickly like Facebook but because 99% of the time I am doing more than one thing at a time on my 12.2 any lag (minute as it maybe) is completely forgivable. In fact other than Facebook I have not notice anything to be slow on this tablet. YouTube, GPS-Google Earth/Maps, Web Browsing, Hancom Office, etc... can all run at 100% at the same time on the same screen.

I had absolutely no issues with stuttering, slowing down or freezing up like some review videos have griped about. The software has updated since I took it out the box so that maybe the trick. Make sure to update your software and all the apps to get the most up to date performance.

This tablet also doesn't get hot in my lap at all when doing heavy work. Netflix, YouTube, streaming Video playback is smooth, crystal clear Hi-Def and looks amazing! Images and text on Mazagine, web browsing apps, FlipBoard, emails, Adobe Reader, games, ebooks, etc... all look crisp, bright and vividly sharp.

The Chrome and Internet web browsing apps are blazing fast! I never liked web browsing apps on tablets and mobile phones because it was never as quick and natural as internet on a PC or notebook but here it feels natural and fast. Pages are full pages and not scaled down versions of websites. I also found the Android web browsing experience MUCH BETTER than Safari on the iOS iPads.

Contrary to some early YouTube reviews I did NOT find this tablet to be too big or heavy for one handed use. The average adult should be able to hold and use it in one hand while standing. The Note Pro 12.2 is the around the same weight as my fiancé's pre-iPadAir iPad3.

At 8"+ by 11"+ inches the 12.2 Note Pro shares the same footprint as a standard sheet of paper (Go to your printer or office desk and pick up a standard sheet of paper it is the same size as this 12.2 tablet)

If you are coming from an older 8" or 10" tablet then the Note Pro 12.2 will 'feel' much bigger but not much heavier. However if you are like me and never owned a tablet before while coming from a Laptop/Desktop background then the 12.2. will feel portable enough.

In fact this tablet paired with the Zagg keyboard has already completely replaced my premium Lenovo Thinkpad for on the go Laptop duties.

Speaking of Laptop PC Windows duties the Productivity Software that comes with the 12.2 is not the usual bloatware you would expect. In fact apps like Hancom and WebEx puts Windows Office to shame.

These productivity apps put the practicality of Microsoft Office onto a tablet environment where everything runs smoothly (especially with S pen) without the costs, drama and high maintenance that you get with Microsoft Office products.

I mainly use Hancom Word for writing (novels) and in this regard I recommend an external keyboard (like the Zagg) since the touch screen keyboard can hog some screen real estate.

Other obvious positives to a 12.2 screen is that you can do way more stuff at the same time and this tablet does the job of multi windows smoothly. My only prior tablet experience was my fiance's iPad3 which interfaces only one app at a time. Having the 12.2 do more than one thing at once took some getting used to. It is fun and most practical.

CONS:

The 12.2 screen carries over the resolution from the Note 10.1's screen (why?). This means in apps like Gallery, Facebook and eBay some lower resolution photos do not scale up properly to fill out the bigger screen. Instead the Note Pro 12.2 tablet stretches out and enlarges images in these apps which results in slight fuzziness on those pictures. So if you are importing old school throw back pictures that you scanned back in 1999 then don't expect those pictures to look good here.

On the Note 10.1 the same images would come out sharper on the smaller screen space. Lisa Gade at MobileTech has a brilliant side by side 10.1 vs 12.2 video on YouTube that shows this effect better than I can describe here.

In fact isn't a big issue and most people who use hi-res pictures won't notice it at all. That said the camera on this tablet like all current tablets is quite crap compared to most high end cell phones or digital cameras. The camera app does have all the latest and greatest features but dont expect wallpaper quality pics. Use your samsung cell phone instead and import pics.

Regarding the screen resolution I will add other apps like Adobe, Chrome/Internet, NYTimes and Magazine/FlipBoard have very crisp and clear images that are on par or better than iPad Retina's images so don't let that turn you away.

My next gripe is in the box this tablet comes with nothing. You get the usb cord/charger combo, a quick start leaflet, and replacement nibs for the S pen.

For $800 spent here I would have at least wanted headphones and a proper manual booklet (you have to search Samsung's website for the 178 page SM-P905 pdf file). Funny enough the SM-P905 manual when you download it has A LOT of important information regarding how to use this tablet properly. For one it warns "do not use a screen protector on the Note Tablets" which is the first thing we all buy for it. I use one anyway and it works fine with the S pen and touch controls.

Be careful with where you buy your MicroSD card from. I went thru two eBay-bought SanDisk and Samsung 64gb cards, most likely fakes, that didn't work, died and almost damaged my Pro 12.2. I finally purchased the genuine Samsung 64gb card at my local Best Buy and it worked. Funny enough the eBay cards worked perfectly on my PC laptop and BlackBerry smartphone so that means the MicroSD card drive on this 12.2 tablet is very picky.

One of my early concerns was out the box it took this tablet about 5 hours to charge from 70% to 100% and much longer to charge from near empty. To improve charging time I went to Application Manager->Running and deleted hidden background Bloatware like HP printer services, Blurb Checkout, etc... On kitkat 4.4 these sneaky apps remain running even after you sleep the tablet suckling away at your battery. With bloatware gone I now go from 30% to a full 100% charge in 4 to 5 hours. If that is too long for you then the LTE note pro 12.2 tablets will have batteries that charge much quicker but the downside is they will also die quicker than non-LTE models.

Price was not a con for me but Samsung releases so many similarly priced tablets with a range of features that it makes me wonder if the Tab Pro 12.2 didn't come out at the same time would the retail for the Note Pro 12.2 be cheaper.

Other than these minor gripes this is a perfect tablet for everyday use

BONUS!
ZAGG KEYBOARD REVIEW: I love that this keyboard works flawlessly, protects the screen when closed has great battery life. Also with its own leather stitched back matching the 12.2 perfectly BUT the Zagg is not a good case holder. The 12.2 lays facedown into the Zagg and clips on but the connection is loose and the tablet moves up and down inside the clips. Also removal of the tablet (as per the instructions) requires you to yank it up snapping back the holding clips open to release the tablet. The issue here is those clips are springy but still plastic and look like they will eventually break (I assume) from continued removal of the tablet. Furthermore you can easily pry or yank the wrong way and send the tablet flying across the room since it requires a bit of force.

Also at $99.99 it is an overpriced keyboard accessory that isn't backlit and looks like it will wear out in a year or two of use. Already my spacebar key needs to be pressed really hard and in the center to work.

I only purchased it at the time I picked my 12.2 because I needed a case right away and the only other case in Best Buy was $59.99. So I did the math and figured $40 bucks more got me a keyboard and stand for the 12.2. It does make a great stand.

In retrospect I probably would not have bought the Zagg for more than $50 but I didn't really have a choice.

It does its job with minimal features for the most part but do not expect a drop-proof case/holder or stellar desktop keyboard performance out of this product.


Samsung UN32F5500 32-Inch 1080p 60Hz Slim Smart LED HDTV (2013 Model)
Samsung UN32F5500 32-Inch 1080p 60Hz Slim Smart LED HDTV (2013 Model)
Offered by Beach Camera
Price: Click here to see our price
19 used & new from $339.00

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This F5500 HDTV was so good we returned it...for the 40 inch model!, November 9, 2013
I was deciding between the EH5300 and the F5500 but was not sure what the differences were other than price. The F5500 series is about $200 more retail and from appearance looks to have an X shaped stand with a much slimmer side profile than the EH5300. In fact last Christmas we bought my mother a pair of 32 inch EH5300s for her kitchen/bedroom and those TVs were awesome. So I assumed the F5500 was just a newer slimmer stlyish series to the cheaper EH5300 when I picked one up last week from Best Buy for my fiance's birthday.

Man was I wrong about it just being a slimmer TV. The UN32F5500 is a BEAST!!!! First and foremost when you hook it up and turn it on the quality of the surround sound is what hits you first. The sound that comes out of this little 32" guy is crystal clear and super loud (be sure to set it for MOVIE Mode). It literally feels as if the scene on TV is going on in your room. The trick is the speakers on the F5500 are on the bottom edge of the monitor so mounting it on a flat wall helps project the sound even better. By contrast the EH5300 has poorer sound quality.

The F5500 is a slim and thin TV that weigh far less than the chunky steel wall mount anchors that I screwed on the back of the thing. This is good but also can be bad if you want your TV to make a bold statement in the room you mount it in.

If you are replacing an older beefier wall mounted 32" flat screen (the older TVs had 2 to 3 inch thick bezels with 4 ot 5 inches of bezel on the bottom edge for speaker grills and buttons) with this F5500 the first thing you will think is the F5500 screen is smaller on the F5500. This optical illusion is a result of the micro thin bezel that surrounds the F5500's display. It makes the entire package appear tiny on a big wall. This is why we returned the 32 inch F5500 for the 40 inch version. As a matter of fact the 40 inch F5500 has the same wall mount footprint as our old 32 inch Dynex Flatscreen.

With everything said and done when it comes to Samsung HDTVs you already know you are getting great picture quality and with this F5500 you will not be dissapointed.

As for the SMART TV features I believe Samsung does a great job with providing many apps and making the interface easy to access and really fast. The Netflix and Smart Hub shortcuts on the remote is super helpful. You can also program the F5500's remote control to control your cable box. If you have other Samsung or Andriod devices in the house then you can connect everything to this TV.

Overall this is a great TV. We expect it to be on the walls for years to come.


Mammut Xeron Shake Backpack (Eclipse, 30-Liter)
Mammut Xeron Shake Backpack (Eclipse, 30-Liter)
Offered by GearX
Price: $54.97
4 used & new from $54.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great General Use Backpack!, September 18, 2013
Mammut does it right again!

As an owner of various hiking-designed backpacks I have always found them tedious to use when it came to basic urban/school commuting.

With hiking packs, and some modern commuter backpacks by North Face, Marmot and Osprey, it is easy to get lost and tangled in a jungle of compression straps, mesh pockets, zippers and flaps. However with the Xeron series Mammut has designed the pack from the inside out meaning the contents you are likely to carry for everyday use were evidently in the mind of the designers. Everything is simple and the three main compartments are collectively big, at 30 liters, and all easy to access. Furthermore the entire package is light, durable and when not full shrinks down to a manageable-sized commuter pack via a great set of side-compression straps.

In the back the Xeron Shake has a large (20 inches deep by 12 inches wide) padded insulated compartment for carrying laptops when commuting or hydration pouches when hiking.

In the middle the Xeron offers the main compartment at 25 liters. Here is where you will dump in your gear or Law School text books. This is also where the compression straps come in handy in that it shrinks down this section of the Xeron Shake 30 when the compartment is not full or it will stabilize a large heavy load against your body when this compartment is stuffed.

The front upper pocket is big enough to carry keys, mobile phones, small electronic tablet devices, pens or hat/gloves. On the side we have two stretch open pockets. On the front center there is a vertical-zippered pocket is imbedded in the gray stretch panel and is flat and narrow. It is probably best for carrying wet gloves/socks or small items like bandanas, chap-stick or candy/power bars that you need to grab quickly whiles hiking but won't mind losing since this pocket is also easy to open on it's own and can be easy to forget to zip back up.

PROS:
- Light weight and very durable construction.
- Well designed and well thought out use of interior spaces. Having them separate into three section allows for easier packing and easier retrieval of what you want without having to dig thru what you don't want.
- The Shake 30 is a perfect multi-use pack that will work for your basic office commute, school shuffle, and hiking adventures. At $149 retail it may be costly but it will certainly delete the need for the weekend hiker/weekday commuter to have 3 different types of single-use backpacks.
- Compression straps work flawlessly and, unlike most packs (I'm looking at you Osprey), the straps won't get in the way or look busy if you don't use them.
- Waist/Hip belt tucks away inside a the lumbar cushion when not used and also adds lumbar cushioning support.
- Daisy Chain Loops on the front makes it easy to lash on extra equipment like snowboards, skis, ice climbing tools, rope, helmets, wet clothing,

CONS:
-The two Metal Stays are annoying. I ended up removing them since they make the pack stiff and the padded back offers plenty of firmness. The Stays seem like they would take a good while and some effort to flex so that the match the shape of your back. Plus airport security would have a field day with this pack since the stays essentially look like long metal pikes or blade weapons when removed.

- The front vertical zippered pocket is not needed where it is and I would have preferred it to be hidden on the side of the pack. I definitely do not recommend putting anything valuable in any of the front pocket if you are commuting in a crowded train or thru a high crime area since those pocket locations are a pickpocket's dream come true.

- I wish the sternum whistle strap was removable as it gets in the way sometimes.

- The Mammut website list this as a 2013/2014 model pack but USA retailers seem to be no longer selling them or selling them as last season closeouts. So in the USA this pack is becoming difficult to find. Even online.

BOTTOM LINE: The cons aren't really big issues with the pack so much as they are my personal gripes. In saying that I admit this is one of the best backpacks I've owned. It has replaced several packs (Mammut Face 22 Liters/Marmot Eiger 36 Liters/North Face Hotshot 26 Liters) that I will now get rid off.


No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Swiss Ingenuity, Chinatown Quality, September 4, 2013
There is not a lot to really say about these watches. I got the Grey Facets SURB111 with the infra-red led on black face and returned it after a couple of days. I will just do a pro/con run down of these watches which will culminate why at this time I don't recommend them at all.

Pros:
1. Cool looking/ Eye catching designs. There are like 20 arrangements of colors and led faces to choose from.

2. Waterproof to 100 feet/30 meters.

3. CR1632 is relatively cheap and very EASY to replace.

4. Touch function has a shorter than expected learning curve and is fairly easy to use.

5. There is plenty of potential direction for Swatch to improve these Touch watches. The platform is unique and mold-able. Samsung just released a line of Galaxy Smart watches to accompany their phones and I think Swatch could easily build towards that direction with the Touch.

Cons:
1. Price: This watch is barely worth $50 much less the retail of $140 that Swatch wants for it. Every con that follows this one will reiterate why.

2. Quality: While the design is indeed nice the construction is really shoddy and the plastic build screams knock off. In fact, this is the reason why I purchased my Touch from a physical Swatch Store. There were too many complaints about online/eBay fakes that people bought.

3. The glass face is NOT Sapphire Crystal! I repeat it is NOT Sapphire Crystal! I'm not sure why I keep reading online stores and Amazon stating Sapphire Crystal as a feature of this watch (hence the steep price tag). Swatch doesn't say what it is on the packaging and website but is most likely Mineral glass that is very easy to scratch and very prone to pick up dirt, oils and fingerprints.

4. Low led screen contrast. My red led numbers were really faint and hard to read. This was more or less the same for the other band colors I tried on in the store.

5. Silicone Band is cheap and will definitely not last beyond a year from normal daily wear. The pattern also seems painted on. I've read lots of reviews stating the band falls off after 12 months. The issue here is the band hinge at the case is really frail and thin. It is only inevitable that it should fall apart sooner or later. However Swatch's (usually stellar) warranty is not clear on how the bands are replaced. My Grey Facets color theme is a seasonal edition that may not be around after a year or two. So how will I get the specific 'Grey Facet' themed band replacement? In response to my inquiry the Swatch store clerk said what they do is put on another similar band. In my case an all black band. That was not a cool answer to hear after spending $140. Also the bands are proprietary and can ONLY be replaced with another Touch band.

6. You cannot swap around the led internals inside onto another Touch. It is sealed uni-body affair. I would have liked to be able to swap around cases and bands like you can with Fitbit tracker bands or iPhone cases. Here if you want a different color band for a different outfit you have to buy a different Touch. I'm surprised Swatch didn't consider this since the target buyers for these will be Tweens and Teenagers.

7. That brings me to my final con. These watches work best on teenagers and kids that want something cool to wear at the start of the school year or during summer vacation. They will most likely grow out of them and want something else after a few months and that will be fine. These Touch watches are not long term investments. Unless you are a Night Club DJ or Movie Star it won't really work for the average adult who tend to want a $140 watch to last more than a year. With that said it brings me back to the original Con; the price. Swatch should really sell these at the $70 mark. At $140 I would have want Sapphire Glass, better use of plastics/silicone as well as user-interchangeable bands & cases.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2014 5:15 AM PST


BlackBerry Bold 9790 Unlocked 3G GSM Phone with 2.45-Inch Touch Screen, 5MP Camera, GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi - US Warranty - Black
BlackBerry Bold 9790 Unlocked 3G GSM Phone with 2.45-Inch Touch Screen, 5MP Camera, GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi - US Warranty - Black
Offered by Real Deal Distributor
Price: $249.95
9 used & new from $139.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After a year this is still one of the BEST Blackberries to date!!!, August 6, 2013
Great phone. If you have this phone and also carry something like an iPhone 5 or Samsung Android Galaxy 4 then you would literally have the most powerful pairing in mobile telephony in your pockets.

PROS:
> All 9790s come factory unlocked to accept Sim cards and work anywhere on this planet! What other phone does that?
> Small. It not only fits in your denim jeans pocket but you will forget it is in there.
> Powerful. Get the OS upgrades and you will find that this is a fast and smooth phone. It does everything well.
> Free Mobile Hotspot. Can't beat that. It is free and FAST! You can add internet up to 5 devices. I've streamed entire Netflix movies via this phone onto my Smart HDTV and did NOT have one blip or hiccup!
> QWERTY hard keyboard is still the best for texting, typing and emails. I have written out many 5-10 page papers for school on this phone and didn't even realize how many pages I have written until after printing it out or transferring it to a word document.
> Good Auto Focus camera and video camera.
> Good standard software and apps.
> Fast and smooth movie and HD video playback. The sound is also REALLY GOOD!
> Touch screen is awesome! It is smooth and the sensitivity is well balanced. Coming from a 9780 it took some time to get use to it but now I love it.
> BBM still rules! I don't care how much you text on an iPhone or Android nothing beats the world accessibly of BBM.
> LED Alerts are still very useful.
> Very GOOD phone features. Most newer phones tend to bury phone features inside menus and apps but here the 9790 still remembers what it means to be a telephone.
> Lots of skins, cases and accessories available on the world market for this phone. I had a tough time at first finding stuff for it in the USA market but once I went on eBay Canada and eBay UK there were hundreds of pages showing products for this device from battery extenders, cases, skins, desktop chargers, car hotspot chargers, etc...

CONS:
> All 9790s may come unlocked for phone calling BUT they are TWO types of 9790s that are 3G/4G/Data locked to specific Bands. The RED71UW 9790 use Bands 1,2,5, and 6 (AT&T, Rogers and Telus) whiles REC71UW 9790 use Bands 1,4 and 8 (T-Mobile, O2, Wind, Mobilicity, UK carriers). This variation ONLY affects the 3G/4G Data Antenna and not the phone calling ability of the 9790. This isn't stated anywhere in the packaging or by most online merchants who simply state the 9790 comes unlocked. It is UNLOCKED for Sim cards and phone calling/texting but it is permanently LOCKED to a specific Band group and hence a LOCKED to specifics carriers if you need to use this for 3G/4G Data.
> Blackberry Apps are EXPENSIVE. Some Apps, especially the productivity ones, can be as much a $79.99!
> Blackberry Apps are lacking. DO NOT buy this phone for Apps! You will be 100% disappointed. There is no Instagram for one and many of those coupon Apps that require touch screens don't exist here. However the basic fare of Facebook, WhatApp, Twitter, eBay, YouTube, etc... all work well here and are all FREE!
> No front facing camera. Being business savvy Blackberries in 2012/2013 should all come with hardware set up to cater to video conferencing and video chatting. This is something 10 years ago you would have thought that Blackberry would have done first and done by now.

>No touch screen based unlock/lock screen apps. Or rather no decent apps for locking/unlocking the screen USING solely the touch screen (like you get with the Samsung Galaxy phones). There is one trial app that can screw up your phone power and memory usage when the trial-ware expires. It is only then you realize the 9790 actually doesn't have many apps that cater or enhance the touch screen feature that this phone does so well.

> Screen can feel too small for extending movie watching. Media playback is easy to do and the sound quality is GREAT but the screen can be small for movie viewing. I just watched Pacific Rim on this 9790 and later when I saw it in theaters I realized there was a lot of detail I missed out on when I saw it on my phone.
> I'm not sure how this is done but my 9790 does not provide Bluetooth streaming of music into my car. Although the bluetooth does extend over the voice dial features it does not automatically prompt for music streaming. Then again, I am not sure if this can be done via an app or OS upgrade. However the fact remains there is no bluetooth music streaming on this 9790 out of the box.

Overall this is still a great phone. I have had it for over a year now and it still feels new in my pocket.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2013 7:01 AM PDT


BlackBerry Bold 9790 GSM Unlocked Phone with Full QWERTY Keyboard and 5 MP Camera--No Warranty (Black)
BlackBerry Bold 9790 GSM Unlocked Phone with Full QWERTY Keyboard and 5 MP Camera--No Warranty (Black)
Offered by TJ GLOBAL
Price: $172.49
29 used & new from $91.42

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After a year this is still one of the BEST Blackberries to date!!!, August 6, 2013
Great phone. If you have this phone and also carry something like an iPhone 5 or Samsung Android Galaxy 4 then you would literally have the most powerful pairing in mobile telephony in your pockets.

PROS:
> All 9790s come factory unlocked to accept Sim cards and work anywhere on this planet! What other phone does that?
> Small. It not only fits in your denim jeans pocket but you will forget it is in there.
> Powerful. Get the OS upgrades and you will find that this is a fast and smooth phone. It does everything well.
> Free Mobile Hotspot. Can't beat that. It is free and FAST! You can add internet up to 5 devices. I've streamed entire Netflix movies via this phone onto my Smart HDTV and did NOT have one blip or hiccup!
> QWERTY hard keyboard is still the best for texting, typing and emails. I have written out many 5-10 page papers for school on this phone and didn't even realize how many pages I have written until after printing it out or transferring it to a word document.
> Good Auto Focus camera and video camera.
> Good standard software and apps.
> Fast and smooth movie and HD video playback. The sound is also REALLY GOOD!
> Touch screen is awesome! It is smooth and the sensitivity is well balanced. Coming from a 9780 it took some time to get use to it but now I love it.
> BBM still rules! I don't care how much you text on an iPhone or Android nothing beats the world accessibly of BBM.
> LED Alerts are still very useful.
> Very GOOD phone features. Most newer phones tend to bury phone features inside menus and apps but here the 9790 still remembers what it means to be a telephone.
> Lots of skins, cases and accessories available on the world market for this phone. I had a tough time at first finding stuff for it in the USA market but once I went on eBay Canada and eBay UK there were hundreds of pages showing products for this device from battery extenders, cases, skins, desktop chargers, car hotspot chargers, etc...

CONS:
> All 9790s may come unlocked for phone calling BUT they are TWO types of 9790s that are 3G/4G/Data locked to specific Bands. The RED71UW 9790 use Bands 1,2,5, and 6 (AT&T, Rogers and Telus) whiles REC71UW 9790 use Bands 1,4 and 8 (T-Mobile, O2, Wind, Mobilicity, UK carriers). This variation ONLY affects the 3G/4G Data Antenna and not the phone calling ability of the 9790. This isn't stated anywhere in the packaging or by most online merchants who simply state the 9790 comes unlocked. It is UNLOCKED for Sim cards and phone calling/texting but it is permanently LOCKED to a specific Band group and hence a LOCKED to specifics carriers if you need to use this for 3G/4G Data.
> Blackberry Apps are EXPENSIVE. Some Apps, especially the productivity ones, can be as much a $79.99!
> Blackberry Apps are lacking. DO NOT buy this phone for Apps! You will be 100% disappointed. There is no Instagram for one and many of those coupon Apps that require touch screens don't exist here. However the basic fare of Facebook, WhatApp, Twitter, eBay, YouTube, etc... all work well here and are all FREE!
> No front facing camera. Being business savvy Blackberries in 2012/2013 should all come with hardware set up to cater to video conferencing and video chatting. This is something 10 years ago you would have thought that Blackberry would have done first and done by now.

>No touch screen based unlock/lock screen apps. Or rather no decent apps for locking/unlocking the screen USING solely the touch screen (like u get with the Samsung Galaxy phones). There is one trial app that can screw up your phone power and memory usage when the trial-ware expires. It is only then you realize the 9790 actually doesn't have many apps that cater or enhance the touch screen feature that this phone does so well.

> Screen can feel too small for extending movie watching. Media playback is easy to do and the sound quality is GREAT but the screen can be small for movie viewing. I just watched Pacific Rim on this 9790 and later when I saw it in theaters I realized there was a lot of detail I missed out on when I saw it on my phone.
> I'm not sure how this is done but my 9790 does not provide Bluetooth streaming of music into my car. Although the bluetooth does extend over the voice dial features it does not automatically prompt for music streaming. Then again, I am not sure if this can be done via an app or OS upgrade. However the fact remains there is no bluetooth music streaming on this 9790 out of the box.

Overall this is still a great phone. I have had it for over a year now and it still feels new in my pocket.


The Origins of the Future: Ten Questions for the Next Ten Years
The Origins of the Future: Ten Questions for the Next Ten Years
by John Gribbin
Edition: Hardcover
72 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book To Keep As A Reference Guide For IMPORTANT Ideas!, August 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a book that I often re-read every few years as a reference guide to ideas that are still important today. Some of the points in this book have been upgraded over the years but the ideas in it are still relevant and thought provoking. The organization of this book is also very well done so it makes it a perfect companion piece to anyone doing research on some of the issues discussed.
The writing is a little chunky at times and the author sometimes go off on a tangent during crucial explanation of advanced subjects but if you stick it out most readers without a scientific background or education will understand what is what.
Those that enjoy this book should definitely check out Borderlands Of Science by Charles Sheffield for a broader, albeit older, scope of what this book discusses. Also `13 Things That Don't Make Sense' is another similar book that tries to explain the many ideas and mystery involved with modern science.


Citizen #BY0003-07E Men's Limited Edition Eco Drive Chronograph Alarm Atomic Watch
Citizen #BY0003-07E Men's Limited Edition Eco Drive Chronograph Alarm Atomic Watch

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Watch! But in 2013 The Crocodile Strap Has To Go!, July 19, 2013
I love this Calibre H610 Chrono Time AT series. In a light weight, relatively inexpensive package, Citizen stuffs a lot into this movement. You get sapphire glass, a slide rule, atomic radio updates, perpetual calender, 26 city world time, chronograph, alarm, automatic DST and a 24 hour sunrise/sunset indicator. All powered by the sun. I have been wearing this H610 movement on other watches and I have been very happy with it. The alarm chime could be louder but it is a flawless, trouble-free, easy to use watch.

One neat little trick is when pulling up functions that require reading of the sub dials the main dial hands move out of the way so you can see the sub dial info until the function is read or completed. I also read online that Citizen builds in a shock detection system that protects the internals during a fall.

I already had the blue face BY0000-56L and the two tone BY0006-50E when I came across this Limited Edition BY0003-07E. It was offered at such a great deal I had to get it even though I didn't need it or even wanted another H610 watch.

This one comes in a swag wooden coffin box replete with a white leather lining, cushions and a hidden compartment for keeping the manuals, warranty cards and the setting instructions CD disc. In the packaging is also a plastic certificate card signed by the Citizen President/CEO. The card states which watch you have of the 2500. Which is cool.

What is not cool is the Crocodile strap that this 07E comes with. It flimsy thin sort of cheap looking AND worse of all the lug end of the strap is not curved to hug the watch case so it leaves a nasty gap at the lugs. Being a thin flat strap it also makes the watch face appear more bigger than it needs to look.

I love this watch but I really hate the Croc strap. On an $850 watch Citizen could've done a better job with the strap. I am in the process or replacing the Croc strap with a Citizen 22mm Rubber-Black-59-T50668 strap. This rubber strap is off the BY0005-01E brother watch to this BY0003-07E.

The rubber strap is curved and sits flush against the case thereby making the overall look of the watch balanced (and not top heavy).

I also intend to use this BY0003-07E watch as more of a sporting watch (traveling, beach/park , cruise vacationing, city life) than a theater/dinner dress watch. So the rubber strap will be more suitable and also MORE modern on this watch.

These originally retailed at $850 which is a bargain for what you are getting. Also considering the regular mineral glass and steel BY0000/BY0006 versions cost between $650 and $750 retail this BY0003-07E watch is a steal!

Citizen no longer makes these anymore but you can find these used at a few online retailers. There is also a silver/black strap edition for those that don't like the gold tone.


Columbia Men's Snake River II Water Short
Columbia Men's Snake River II Water Short
Price: $19.96 - $39.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Tailored & Slimmer Cut Than The Original & I DO NOT like the pockets!, July 8, 2013
I have three pairs of Snake River I (SR1) shorts and I am 5'9" 150 lbs/33" waist and a Small/11"inseam in the SR1 fit me perfectly which wasn't cool since I normally wear a medium in every other brand.

This year with the Snake River 2 (SR2) Columbia shortened the inseam to 9 inches and made the sizes more tailored to fit how they ARE SUPPOSED TO FIT. So now with the SR2 shorts I wear a Medium/9"inseam and they actually fit perfectly. In fact the SR2's Medium fits slimmer than the SR1's small.

So diehard SR1 folks may want to size up when buying SR2 shorts-also the tags on the SR2 clearly says 'Slimmer Fit' in big bold print to let you know to try them on before ripping all the tags off.

Columbia made the fabric and stitched-seams thinner on the SR2 so it dries much quicker than the SR1. Because I also use my SR shorts for hiking and rock climbing I quickly realized the SR2's are not as durable as the SR1's but if you are buying these mainly for water sports or the beach then they will be fine for that.

My biggest gripe with the SR2 is pockets. All of them are smaller than the SR1. Except the back pocket which is actually bigger/deeper but my gripe here is the back pocket is no longer a zippered pocket. It has a flimsy patch of Velcro barely keeping it closed so you can no longer keep valuables in there. The SR2 no longer has the hidden coin/key pocket inside the mesh lining that the SR1 had.

Over all I like the SR2 shorts for the better color options, fit and lighter fabric but I will definitely be keeping and wearing my SR1 shorts whenever I can.

AUGUST 8, 2013 EDIT: After a month or two with these SR2 shorts I've come to really NOT like the pocket situation. Especially the main hand pockets. Columbia made the openings narrow and vertical so putting your hands in them or putting in and retrieving stuff is slightly annoying (normally the pocket openings are slanted or angled forwards for easy access). Even worse is I started to notice the pockets are stretching out and tearing at the bottom corners. This is the inevitable result of them stretching out every time I put my hand in them or use them to hold stuff.

Also like I said before I use these shorts for hiking and trail biking and I'm definitely started to notice that they are not as durable as the original SR1 shorts. I only wear them on weekends and some Friday afternoons but I doubt I can pull more than two summers off with these shorts before they will need replacing.

I would have knock my review down to 3 stars but these are still a bargain at $20 to $40. Technically they dry really fast and they wear very comfortably so I'm keeping the 4 stars out of 5 BUT I'm being very generous with that since I'm reviewing these shorts from the perspective of a user who wears them beyond their intended use. If you only need them for the mild beach visitation, 30 minutes at the gym or at the pool/hot-tub then these are basically 5 star shorts.


Mens Citizen Eco Drive Calibre 2100 Watch in Stainless Steel (AV0031-59A)
Mens Citizen Eco Drive Calibre 2100 Watch in Stainless Steel (AV0031-59A)
Offered by WatchZone
Price: $446.25
2 used & new from $446.25

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original White Panda Face Calibre 2100! - Accept NO Substitutes!, May 15, 2013
1. Definitely not the cute Boyfriend Watch that your girlfriend would wear:

If the essence of the male species were to be captured in one watch it would be this brolic, robust chunk of white steel famously known as the Calibre 2100. The package does indeed carry a lot of heft for it's size. So much so that when you first pick it up it will feel like the weight of its retail price in nickels (that is $595 in nickel coins by the way). But it is a good solid build that you will grow on you and that you can wear comfortably all day long whether stuck at an office desk or working in the outdoors all day. Compared to the biggest watch in my collection, the 46mm Chrono Time AT BY0000-56L, this 44.5mm sized Calibre 2100 feels twice as heavy when you pick both watches up at the same time.

2. Discussing overall quality:

The design quality is extremely well done and in fact I read an old online article from 2006 stating that the advent of the Calibre 2100 series was one of Citizen's first progression into using better materials for their watches as well as heralding the expansion of the Eco-Drive technology for all their watch movements.

The quality of the lume (luminous phosphorescent)is also second to none. It is bright needing only a few seconds of sunlight to glow in a partly sun lit room. If you need it to shine thru the night just expose it in a few minutes of sunlight. I have never seen a better, more consistent, lume.

However, my praise stops short at the design quality. By contrast the build quality is a love/hate relationship for any 2100 owner. The USA/North American market's Stainless Steel/Mineral Crystal AV0031-59A 2100 watches are prone to show visible scratches even after the slightest wear. The steel bracelet and clasp picks up scratches easily and the mineral crystal glass WILL scratch if you are not careful.

I always wrap my stainless steel clasp in clear scotch tape to keep it from scuffing against my office desk when I'm working long hours at the computer.

Citizen does have several better quality European and Asian market White Panda Face 2100 versions. Notably the AV0030-60A (also called the AV0030-51A) that has Sapphire Crystal on Stainless Steel cases and bands. Then there is the ultra rare AV0020-55A that has both Sapphire Crystal on polished Titanium case & band with Carbide Coating.

In the USA and North America those are rare market versions of the 2100 and obviously will cost more to buy online shipped from overseas but if you get an opportunity to order one of those from overseas online from a reputable seller, even if it is $200 more than the sale price of the steel/mineral 2100, then jump on it quickly.

For those of us already stuck with a AV0031-59A don't despair. Some North American Citizen Service Centers, at the time of this writing, will replace your AV0031-59A's Mineral Crystal with Sapphire Crystal glass for around $69 to $100 (pricing depends on which center you use, when you use the service and your location). This Sapphire replacement service is NOT a warranty service but replacement of a scratched Mineral Crystal glass with new Mineral Crystal glass 'may' be a free warranty service. However at the time you are replacing a broken or scratched Mineral Crystal glass UNDER the free warranty they 'may' upgrade to Sapphire for a discounted fee or free if you ASK.

I have used Citizen Service Centers on many occasions since 2006 and I have found that is always best to call your service center, be as friendly as possible and ASK for what you want. Usually they are super friendly and will work with you in making you a happy customer. Still NOTE that Citizen Service and Warranty terms are always subject to change and what I am writing here is ONLY true at the time of this review (May 2013) and can change or cease all together in the future.

Another thing that gets scratched easily but CANNOT be replaced is the polished bezel frame that surrounds the crystal glass. My service center said it could not be replaced and that they could not (or rather would not) polish the scratches out. So keep that in mind when buying used 2100 watches. A scratched Mineral Crystal glass and scuffed bracelet can be replaced but you can't replaced that scuffed polished bezel ring.

That said, I'm on my second AV0031-59A 2100 watch. My first one purchased in May 2011 immediately got scratched on the glass because I had no idea of the sensitivity of the mineral crystal and was not careful. I replaced the mineral crystal at the Hurley Service Center in Atlanta GA but found out the scratched bezel ring was irreplaceable so sold it off in May 2012 to buy my current AV0031-59A 2100. Since I've been careful with the crystal I have not had any damage on it so far.

3. Discussing the 2100's face:

Compared the all the 2100 series the white color panda face dial is by far the easiest to read at a glance. It is the least busy and cleanest in design. There is not much to say. The main hands are hour, minute, and fly back-chronograph seconds with the red arrow being the alarm location (when the hour hand enters the red arrow the alarm chimes). The sub dials are 3 o'clock for the chronograph minutes, 6 o'clock for the time keeping second hand and 9 o'clock for the chronograph hours (yes this guy does up to 12 hr chrono which is amazing) with the massive 12 o'clock sub dial displaying the current solar charge situation.

4. Discussing the functionality of the Calibre 2100's E210 movement:

The e210 movement's main feature is the powerful sweeping fly-back chronograph. Pressing button A starts and pauses the chronograph. Pressing button B, after button A pauses it, resets the chronograph. The chronograph can record up to 12 hours which is a feature unique to this movement.

The e210 movement also has an alarm chime and a date window. It is not perpetual calender movement and will need to be adjusted every month depending on if the month has 31, 30, 28 or 29 days. There is a massive sub dial for power reserve indicator and a passive Tachymeter scale framing the entire face. Everything works as should and all the movements are spot on accurate.

Because of it's ease of use and readability, I have found that the e210 movement is more of an everyday working watch than a specialist watch or a passive dress piece. The chronograph is useful for sporting events, productivity tasks or activities where one is tracking or timing something for periods longer than the basic 60 minute limit your get with regular chronographs. I could see the e210 movement being a perfect compliment to any profession where keeping tabs on activities lasting more than an hour is vital.

5. What I would change:

I am not a fan of the steel bracelet. The bracelet linkage on the 2100 is a clunky, chunky and rattly affair.

On hot days the steel bracelet can feel cumbersome and often times at the end of a tedious work day I find myself removing the watch to let my wrist breathe and relax. Similar to taking off heavy work boots and putting on flip flops or tennis shoes for the long drive home after work.

I wish the links were closer spaced, a bit wider (24mm instead of 23mm) and slightly thinner (like it is on the BY0000-56L's bracelet). The bracelet on the Calibre 2100 watches are NOT interchangeable with leather/fabric straps or other bracelets.

A major unexpected issue that many first timers will have is with the removable links using the sleeved style pins that make bracelet size adjustment impossible without a proper watch tool (you can easily buy one off eBay from 99 cents and up) or a skilled watch technician nearby (most watch shops or sellers will re-size the bracelet from free to around $5.00).

When attempting to adjust the bracelet and the sleeved pins are pushed out the miniscule sleeves detaches from the pin. These tiny sleeves serve as friction devices holding the pins firmly inside the link holes. Without the sleeves the naked pins will just slide out of the link holes and the bracelet falls apart.

The issue is that once you remove a pin and the sleeve comes off that pin it is impossible (as far as I can tell) to put the sleeve back around the pin without advanced watch tools.

That is if the miniscule sleeve didn't already roll off your table top and already got lost . These sleeves have a tendency to disappear once you start pushing your pins out.

The ONLY way I found to reuse a naked pin is to bend the pin slightly in the middle so it holds in place when inserted back into the linkage hole.

Overall I would have preferred the much easier to use self locking V (wedge) style pin that go in and out of the linkage holes on their own.

That said, the one positive here is the bracelet clasp has a 3 range micro adjustment extension or retraction for making the bracelet slightly bigger or smaller. Micro adjustments can easily be done with a pen tip, paper clip, safety pin or similar object.

Third gripe: For the retail price of $595 I would expect Citizen to use Sapphire Crystal in the USA models.The Mineral Crystal glass will scratch if you are not careful. Also the matte steel bracelet and clasp picks up bruises and scuffs easily compared to other steel clasps I've worn. Furthermore the shiny caseback also scratches and fades away overtime from normal wear.

Finally (and this is not my personal gripe but it should be noted here) the Alarm Chime is not loud at all. It is more of a light reminder-chime than a loud, wake-me-up-alarm chime. I didn't buy this for an alarm clock but I expect many souls will see the alarm/chronograph stamped on the box description and plunk down $595 expecting to be awoken from this watch. They will be very disappointed. For me I have a $5 alarm clock in my bedroom and a 99cent alarm clock in my travel kit to wake me up so I don't expect wake up duties to be held by my wrist watch.

6. Final word:

If there is one watch that you will buy in a 10 year period that you will find extremely hard to flip or part with it would be this Panda Face Calibre 2100 series. It is a timeless piece of business in terms of design and performance quality. It is also easy to wear as a day to day watch going with just about every get up from business attire to sports wear to beach wear, etc... I've seen wedding pictures with Panda Faces clinging to the groom and I've seen this watch countless of times at the gym. That lets you know the 2100 is all about the business and not just about the show.

Get the Sapphire Crystal AV0030-60A(or AV0030-51A) version or call your Service Center and get the Sapphire Crystal upgrade and you will be very happy in doing so. Also the resale values of a used condition AV0031-59A 2100 with or without Sapphire are off the scales. These watches keep a decent value even though Citizen USA still carries this very same original panda face 2100 on their website today and you could still buy them online or brick and mortar retail. Still buyers and eBayers hunger after used 2100s as if these watches are rare discontinued items.

Now that tells you when a watch has a good demand value. Get one and you will be happy!


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